Spire – Digital EP 2010
Australia – land of beer, Sheilas and blokes in dodgy beachwear. Not the sort of place you imagine people could be pissed off enough to dredge out the sort of totally crestfallen black funeral doom that obscure newish brood Spire create. But then the Florida gave us Obituary, Deicide and Virus, so I guess weather isn’t a barometer for bands, as it were. Anyway this lot sound a bit like some of those Esoteric-type bands, with mid-tempo double-bass heavy drums, trebly washes of guitar and groaning, growling vocals of no discernible wordage. Ambient, therefore, yes, but also very atmospheric, making you feel as if you’re stuck in a deep undersea canyon, with some sort of faulty, aged breathing apparatus, fairly sure there’s not a load of oxygen left.
The thing about some of this sort of music is that with slick production sometimes the edges can be a little too smoothed out, and it just kind of whooshes past as almost perversely relaxing background music. However Spire manage to keep up the tension with both an almost casually grim relentlessness in their demeanour, and also periods of ‘noisescapes’ between some songs that help to keep you focussed on their songtitle-free world of pain and murk. And they’re not afraid of a bit of variation, almost Jesu-y final track ‘VII’ showing a lovely line in queasily melodic vocal work.
This is essentially a mini-album, although they’re calling it an EP, which suggests their major statement of intent will be along soon after they’ve plumbed more depths of despair. This is something to truly look forward to, if you’re a fan of bands such as Altar of Plagues, Esoteric, even maybe Deathspell Omega, although they don’t overdo the stylistic complexity side of things. The future is black.
Spire ‘Metamorphosis’ Digital EP 2011
This bleak, colourless five-track effort is, if you like this sort of thing, an outstanding slice of blackened funeral doom from these happy go lucky Aussie types, who have remained fairly obscure since their equally ace 2010 debut EP.
It takes a 2 minute track of ambience to get underway, and you have to admire these guys’ lack of any desire to pander to the EP norms of getting on with things on track one. Overall the mood is similar to last time, with elegantly brutal guitars washing away all thoughts of hope, with slightly atonal harmonies and morbid, shocked vocals growling sullenly or simply yelling at the pointless of it all.
Think somewhere between Esoteric and something like Dragged into Sunlight for an idea of the overall vibe, with a comforting yet mildew-laden velvet cloak of sludgy production draped over the whole thing. Not very Neighbours-like, in short. The vocalist has that impressive knack of seeming to possess two larynxes (although it might be double tracked) – ie a wafty yell underpinned by a grinningly evil guttural noise, making your flesh crawl nicely. Track three Larva is a great example of this, and the guitars stubbornly stay on one atonal note, a la Will Haven almost, to brilliant effect. This trick is repeated on final track Mort, which later slows appropriately to a bleakly beautiful, drawn out death, that’s bizarrely almost uplifting.
In short this EP (mini-album?) has loads to offer the contemplative miserabilist looking for some more shades of darkness to explore.
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Label: Self Released
Scribed by: James Parker